NEW DELHI, India, May 18 – The Indian cricket board on Wednesday slapped a $50,000 fine on soon-to-retire bowling legend Shane Warne over a bust-up between the Australian and an official during this season's IPL.
The punishment casts a cloud over Warne’s last game of professional cricket on Friday when his Rajasthan Royals team take on the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
The leg-spin maestro, captain of the Rajasthan team, was involved in an angry exchange with Sanjay Dixit, secretary of the Rajasthan state cricket association, following his team’s defeat at home last week.
Warne was furious about his team being asked to play on a different wicket than one used in previous games, but he later apologised for "any distress" his action may have caused.
After a complaint by the Rajasthan cricket association, Warne and Dixit were summoned for a hearing before a disciplinary commission comprising IPL chairman Chirayu Amin and former player Ravi Shastri.
"The commission has decided to impose a fine of US$50,000 upon Mr Warne," the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which runs Indian cricket, said in a statement.
It said the disciplinary commission "regards the public criticism of Mr Dixit as being a serious breach by Mr Warne of his IPL playing contract".
"However, at the same time, the commission also recognises that Mr Warne has apologised to Mr Dixit, and that the incident occurred just after the match.
"In addition, the commission is cognisant of the contribution to the game of cricket in general, and to the Indian Premier League, which has been made by Mr Warne."
The 41-year-old touched off controversy when he hinted at a conspiracy over the selection of a new wicket for a home match against Chennai Super Kings which Rajasthan’s spin-heavy attack struggled to bowl on.
Sacked former IPL boss Lalit Modi, who is under investigation for alleged corruption, has implied that Chennai owner and BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan used his influence to have the wicket changed.
Meanwhile, from Sydney, Australian seamer and former Test player Stuart Clark announced his retirement from international and state cricket on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old will instead focus on his new role as general manager of the Sydney Sixers in a new eight-team, city-based Twenty20 domestic competition starting this summer.
He will continue playing club cricket for Sydney University.
"I am going to continue playing club cricket as I still love playing the game, but more importantly I believe I can still help develop Australia’s future talent," said Clark, who played 24 Tests, taking 94 wickets at 23.86.
"Playing cricket has given me many opportunities in life and I feel by continuing to play club cricket I am giving something back to the game.
"The Sydney Sixers is now my professional focus, however."
Clark, who captained New South Wales in Simon Katich’s absence last summer, also played in 39 one-dayers, taking 53 wickets at 27.86.
Dixit claimed Warne had been putting pressure on him to provide a "suitable" pitch for Rajasthan’s home matches.
Things came to a head when Warne walked up to Dixit following a second defeat against Bangalore on May 11 and exchanged angry words with him in full public view.
Rajasthan are already out of contention for an IPL play-off place after suffering seven defeats in 13 games.
A lacklustre Warne has taken 12 wickets from as many games in the Twenty20 competition so far.
His team’s last game against debutants Kochi saw Rajasthan capitulate for just 97 and Warne did not even bother to bowl, uncharacteristic of the fiercely competitive sportsman.